Being the only running back on staff to not record a big season in college, UDFA Chris Warren III will fly under the radar during camp. Despite not being a particularly dominant rusher at Texas, Warren III proved himself a balanced back with diverse skills. The Raiders will give him a thorough look.
While pass blocking is not a stat of glory, Warren III also brings a balanced mix of pass catching and speed to the table while also proving himself as an incredibly hard player to bring down in the open field. Warren’s skill set is perfect for the type of play style the Raiders need to run. Chris Warren III is a perfect option to back up Marshawn Lynch in play-action sets. He can block if he does not get the ball, has good enough hands to catch a delayed play-action screen, and can run the ball well enough to pose a threat.
Jon Gruden must also be excited about Chris Warren III, as Warren is an absolute grinder. Overlooked at Texas for younger backs following a sophomore year knee injury, Warren found himself at tight end. This move shows Warren’s versatility as a move from running back to tight end rarely occurs. However, Gruden is a fan of the hard-working, lesser-noticed players as we have all learned from his “Gruden’s Grinder” segment from the Monday Night Football postgame. Coming in at 6’ 2”, Warren would be in the upper quadrant of NFL running backs. Typically, the taller backs will be power backs and Chris Warren III fits that mold. Warren ran a slightly higher-than-average 40-yard dash, clocked at 4.7 unofficially.
Nevertheless, speed should not be the focus in discussion. The Raiders already have three scatbacks with Jalen Richard, Doug Martin, and DeAndre Washington (all three listed as 5’8”). In addition, Marshawn Lynch is not getting any younger. While he is essentially a brick wall with legs, leaving him with too many pass blocking assignments could be detrimental to his running game. Listed as three inches taller than Lynch, Warren is the tallest running back on the Raiders’ staff. While this could mean Warren stays in to pass block, it could also mean that, simply put, he is the tallest running back on the team. Warren’s height puts him only one inch shorter than the two tallest backs in the league: Latavius Murray and Derrick Henry (both listed at 6’3”).
Being a big supporter of “grinders” myself, I am quite excited to watch Chris Warren III. Not only that, I am also excited to see what Gruden has in store for Warren. I feel as though Warren making the team happens. Yet, the only predicament is the possibility of Gruden not wanting to have four running backs on the roster. If this is true, I could see Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington being waived. They are both quite similar players. This being said, Chris Warren III should be safe to not only make the team. He could see a playing time this season.